First Impression Staging: Think of Your Target Market
One of the most difficult concepts we face is the prospect of thinking from another’s perspective. Yet, that is precisely what we need to do when we are selling our home (or selling anything, for that matter!). While we may have spent years adding those personal touches that made the house we purchased years ago into the home we have today, those memories, preferences and unique features are personal. They likely are not shared by the vast majority of prospective home buyers who may view our new listing.
In one house I viewed, the owner had built an innovative centre island display around a former fireplace that had been removed (without removing the chimney). It had a tapered, four-sided pyramid appearance, with special spotlighting focusing on the various angles and shelving that had been built in. Although very artistic, and eye-catching for each visitor, several people to whom I spoke during the open house commented that they would remove it, and use the space more effectively, change the lighting, or repaint the various elements.
Once a buyer starts to think less of the current appeal, and more how he can improve a house, it diminishes its immediate value.
In another house that I renovated, I upgraded the furnace to a 94.8% efficiency, installed a tankless water heater, replaced all windows with energy-efficient ones, upgraded the insulation to beyond R2000 standards, and added numerous structural (but not visible) improvements. I also updated the kitchen, and built a fantastic backyard deck and garden area. Although the structural components provided huge economic benefit, the items that sold the house were the aesthetic improvements.
Next door, a friend had done only cosmetic upgrades, but had done a wonderful job. The 90 year old house, with its decaying structural shell, sold ten days faster than mine, because of the eye appeal. It is the first impression that sells. We buy with our emotions, and justify with our logic.
To improve your home’s marketability, think from your target market’s perspective. Are you targeting young families? Get rid of sharp corners, artsy features, clean, white floors and counters, because those children are a bane to crisp, Spartan amenities. Aiming for the single, busy executive? Eliminate the flowery, decorative look. How about the 30-something, childless couples? Lots of entertainment room, inside and out, may be important.
This is not to suggest that your should focus exclusively on a specific, small niche. Rather, consider the range of possible buyers, and stage the home with them in mind. Thinking from their points of view will pay dividends in increased purchase price and quicker sale.